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Our adversary, the devil
- Jacob Ninan
Some Christians think the devil is just a fancy notion that has no reality, and some others are so scared of the devil that they see him everywhere! But the devil is very real in the New Testament, and all those who take their Christian lives seriously are bound to come across him as a deceiver, accuser, tempter, and an enemy who is out to attack us (Re.12:9,10;Mt.4:1;1Pe.5:8). He works directly or through his demons to inject ideas into our mind. He does this so well that often we imagine that they are our own thoughts. If we look back and examine our thoughts, we realise that we would not have thought such thoughts on our own. In fact we disagree with or hate such thoughts. But they do come in, apparently out of the blue, and try to mislead us.
The devil knows that his time is very short, and that soon he will be thrown into the lake of fire (Re.20:10). So he is out to do the maximum damage he can to God's people. Can't we recognise his presence through the increasing rate of violence, sexual attacks, suicides, etc., these days? Even small things seem to trigger unreasonably violent responses from people. People hit out verbally or physically at the slightest provocation, and murders and suicides take place very easily. What is happening seems to be that when we get under pressure due to difficult circumstances, Satan places suggestions into our mind to take strong action. If we don't have clear boundaries in our mind about what we will not do, we can get fooled into following his ideas.
We don't have to live in fear of the devil because Jesus has already conquered him on the cross and stripped off his power over us (Co.2:15). Jesus has also given us authority over all the power of the enemy (Lk.10:19). We now have the authority in Jesus' name to stand against all the hosts of Satan, not because of anything in ourselves but under the authority of Jesus that has been delegated to us. If we are under submission to Jesus and we resist Satan he has to flee (Jas.4:7). We may remember the picture from 'Pilgrim's Progress' that shows us that the devil may try to frighten us with his roars, but he is chained, and he cannot reach us unless we go too near!
We are no match for the devil when it comes to strategy because his intelligence and experience are far superior. Our strength is in Christ when we abide in Him. The Bible talks about avoiding unforgiving attitudes or anger which can give a foothold for the devil (2Co.2:10,11;Ep.4:26,27). We can also take it that the same warning will also hold if we consciously hold on to any other sin (Ps.66:18). Our constant aim must be to live with a clear conscience towards God and man (Ac.24:16). If our heart is right we will have confidence before God (1Jn.3:21).
On a practical note, let us see that when the devil comes to our thoughts there will usually be a 'push' behind it, trying to force us into action. It is never good to be hasty in words or action.